…and one more thing…

Guess what…

Remember that picture from yesterday? I strategically cropped out what was written on the shirt. ūüôā

Brooke’s pregnant again! No idea what the gender is yet (boyboyboyboyboyboyboy…), but the due date is September 21st, 2013 and all is well with Mom and baby.

Well, maybe not with “Mom,” as much. ¬†She’s taken to a bit more “morning sickness” (read:¬†all day sickness) than she did when she was pregnant with Meg, but hopefully as the first trimester draws to a close, that’ll start to subside a bit.

Still, we’re excited to add to the family! ¬†And Meg’s excited to be a Big Sister. ūüôā

“…it’s a series of tubes.”

We’ve been fighting Meg’s various ear infections since, oh, last November or so. We think it started around the time she came down with strep, and thereafter, it just seemed like she had a (likely unrelated…) string of ear infections that just…wouldn’t…go…away… We tried at least 4 different antibiotics, nebulizer treatments, and once we hit Spring, even some allergy medication. None of them would ever, truly, get rid of the infections. Sure, while on antibiotics, she would improve, but a week or so later, she’d be back to her ear infected ways.

We didn’t even notice at first. ¬†She went in for a regular check-up and they told us she had an ear infection. ¬†She had been sleeping alright (relatively speaking…), never had a fever, no¬†discernible¬†hearing difficulties, and wasn’t pulling on her ears or anything: Meg wasn’t presenting with any of the typical signs, so we hadn’t even noticed. ¬†Since then, we’ve paid a bit more attention and can usually tell when it’s getting worse. ¬†Then, we make the appointment, get some more (or different) antibiotics, she gets better for a week or so, and then it gets worse again.

Finally, over a month ago, we scheduled the appointment with the otolaryngology department here at the University to check her out. ¬†Took that long to get her in… ¬†Yesterday, at the appointment, Meg did remarkably well! ¬†The doc said she had some fluid in one of her ears, but definitely no infection in the other one. ¬†In the end, she recommended going with ear tubes for sure, then if they pop out too soon (i.e. less than 6 mo; they can stay in up to 3 years), or the infection comes back, then consider “shaving back” the adenoids. ¬†Others had told us that tonsillectomy could be in the picture, but this doctor didn’t think her tonsils were bad or anything (w00t!).

Now, what are these tubes going to do? Here’s the description and diagram:

Ventilation tubes allow fluid to drain out of the middle ear space and allow air to reenter. The risk of recurring ear infections is greatly reduced. Hearing returns to normal with the tube in place and speech development can get back on track.

So after this is done, and assuming it works, we’re hopeful that Meg will put on some more weight and start walking, as we think her whole system has been messed up, slowing her development. ¬†She’s cruising just fine, can stand, and has even taken a step or two, but it just seems like her balance is off and is affected by the ears. ¬†For example, she only seems to try taking steps when she’s only a day or two out from beginning a round of antibiotics. ¬†Sure, correlative, but balance in a biped is greatly affected by the situation of your ears (specifically, the semicircular canal, a component of your inner ear). ¬†So far as speech development goes, she’s making attempts at repeating words you say, and frequently she succeeds, but at 15 mo old, she probably should have been doing this more a few months ago.

Meg isn’t too far behind, but we’re hoping that getting tubes in will help her out. ¬†Then she can start running around and terrorizing the chickens and her mother. ¬†ūüôā

Oh yeah, and the title comes from the late, great Senator Ted Stevens…who described the internet as a “series of tubes.”


Hootie Was Right

Last Wednesday night, Meg went to bed as she normally does: takes a milk bottle (8 oz, usually), goes to sleep within 15-20 min, and we are out of the room within 30 min.  She woke up around 10:30 and had more milk, and had to be rocked to sleep again.  If I remember correctly, she woke up again in the 1:00 hour and had to be rocked to sleep yet again.

3:30 am rolls around, and she won’t go back down. ¬†She will fall asleep, but we can’t lay her back in the crib without her waking up. ¬†We finally bring her to bed with us, causing me to stay in bed and skip an hour of work. ¬†Brooke, luckily, was on spring break, so she didn’t have to be at work at 7:30 am.

Meg really hadn’t slept through the night but for a handful of times since last November when she had strep. ¬†Sometimes, she’d wake up once per night, sometimes two. ¬†This past week or so, it had gone up to 3 or 4 times a night. ¬†Wednesday night was the last straw. ¬†3:30 am until 6:00 am is simply ridiculous when you have a one-year-old that doesn’t have an ear infection, and whose teeth aren’t causing that much pain: she’d been given Orajel and a few doses of Tylenol throughout the night.

Granted, Meg has battled various sicknesses and multiple ear infections, and the teething has been an issue more recently. ¬†But to our knowledge, nothing was physically wrong with her now. ¬†She was just escalating the times she’d wake up in the middle of the night, and simply would not go back to sleep on her own.

Brooke did some research, posted a plea for help on Facebook, and went to the library on Friday to see what books she could find. ¬†She settled on “The Happiest Toddler On The Block,” by Harvey Karp. ¬†Mostly, we used the book for the sleeping portion, although I’m sure Brooke will read the rest of it for other interesting tidbits.

Basically, there were a few possibilities outlined in the book to try with your kid, and I will briefly summarize them here:

  1. Immediately when your child starts crying, go into their room, pick them up, soothe them until they stop crying, and then put them down again in the crib.  If the start crying again, pick them up and do it again.  And again and again.  This can take 20-50 times when you first try it, though it will decrease each time you do it.
  2. Let your child cry for 3 minutes, then open their door, look to make sure they haven’t thrown up or injured themselves, then say “I love you, it is time for you to go to sleep, goodnight,” and then close the door again. ¬†As they will undoubtably continue crying, go back in 5 minutes and do it again, then go back in 10 minutes and do it again, and finally go back every 15 minutes thereafter until they go to sleep, constantly reminding you that you’re there, even though they can’t see you. This method could take up to 5 nights, with the third night being the worst. ¬†The crying could last an hour, easily, especially for the first few nights.

We chose the second option, as the first one never seemed to work in the past (or any portion of the method).

As we really didn’t want to risk a repeat of Wednesday night, we went ahead and decided to start Friday night. ¬†We went out to dinner at the Starlight Room (very good!), and got ice cream at Dairy Queen. ¬†We had a very pleasant Friday night, in preparation for what was to come…

Meg went down by 7:30 just as she normally does, and then she woke up around 10:30. ¬†Brooke was already in bed, and as it was Friday night and I was staying up gaming anyway, I took the first shift. ¬†I did exactly as the book prescribed, and used the stopwatch on my phone to make sure I went in at 3 min, 5 min, 10 min, etc. ¬†Brooke stayed in bed and listened, just in case Meg started doing something unhealthy (aside from screaming at the tip-toppest of her lungs). ¬†She also gave me a few pointers, as I wasn’t being “soothing enough” the first two times I poked my head in… ūüėõ

It was around midnight when she finally stopped. ¬†I think it was 11:45, the last time I actually went into the room, but I stayed up later to make sure she didn’t cry for the next 20-30 min.

She was likely tired out after that ordeal that she didn’t wake up again until around 4:00 am. ¬†Brooke got up that time and went in, but she only had to once. ¬†Meg fell asleep after Brooke went in and went through the routine.

Meg slept until 7:00 then.  Not bad for the first night!

The second night, Meg woke up multiple times, but never cried up until the 3 min line, so we never poked our heads in.  Never got up.  Not bad for the second night.

And last night?

Not a peep.

Not one, aside from a little coughing here and there.

Yes, on the third night, Meg slept from 7:00 pm until 7:00 am.  No crying.

Obviously, we’ll see how this translates into Night #4. ¬†We’re off to a good start, certainly. ¬†Because we have started this, we are also being more cognizant of giving her a sippy cup to use throughout the day, for both milk and apple juice. ¬†It was good that we started this on a weekend so we could monitor how much she was drinking. ¬†Yesterday, she had 4 sippy cups-worth of fluids, so she was certainly getting enough out of it. ¬†Since she isn’t drinking as much (or at all) during the night, she transferred most of her fluids to the daytime. ¬†So long as this continues while she’s at daycare, we should be good to go.

I’m sure we’ll still have some bad nights ahead of us, as the teething hasn’t stopped and she will surely get another ear infection or two, but at least now we have a plan and solid footing for a workable sleep schedule: for the whole family.

“Let Her Cry,” indeed.

Meg’s Longies

Our wonderful friend, Melissa, sent me a link to some instructions about making your own wool diaper cover pants from an old sweater after we had talked about the merits of these kinds of diaper covers. I didn’t want to make the $40+ investment without knowing if I would even like the covers, so I made a few versions after a trip to Goodwill’s sweater racks. There are a bunch of instructions online about how to make your own, so I don’t need to recount my process, but even if they don’t work great (we’ve only used them over a regular diaper cover so far), they’re super cute!!!

Our Weekend, by the numbers

1 dinner out.
3 full nights of sleep.
10 gallons of beer brewed.
1 movie (in a theater).
1 snow storm driven through.
5 blog postings.
1 worn out baby.
2 worn out grandparents.
4 loaves of bread baked.
2 movies (at home).
15 baby meals cooked, pureed, and frozen.
1 bathtub scrubbed (it was gross).
10 yards of fabric tie-dyed orange.
$100 spent at Wal-Mart.
1 new television series started.
4 new baby shoes.
2 kitchen scales purchased.
1 kitchen scale returned.
14 cups of coffee.
9 hours of driving.

Water Babies

We started Water Babies last week at a city pool in Cedar Rapids. Meg was trying to put her face into the bathtub water, so I figured it was time for us to figure out how to do that without either of us freaking out. So far, she’s loving watching the other kids in the pool and splashing, but does not appreciate going under water or floating on her back. I’m sure we’ll have lots of swim lessons in our future and this is a fun start!

Turning It Up To ’11

There were various blog and Facebook posts bouncing around over the past few weeks discussing the year that was 2010 and the potential for 2011. I decided to spend those first few days not really posting much, mostly out of laziness, but also out of reflection.

2010 is going to go down as a seminal year for me, personally, as well as our family as a whole. ¬†It was a year when I defended my dissertation, culminating in the completion of a Ph.D. and, therefore, the end of my tenure as a student (23 years in the making…). ¬†It was a year marked by leaving the bustling city of St. Louis for the more laid-back trappings of rural Iowa, coinciding with both Brooke and I leaving our previous jobs (if you count being a graduate student as a “job”…) and starting new positions in Cedar Rapids and Iowa City, respectively. ¬†There was also a 10 year high school reunion in there.

The move to Iowa brought quite a few other changes. ¬†We now live in a house, not an apartment. ¬†I now have to (get to?) mow a lawn. ¬†Brooke gets the garden she’s always wanted. ¬†I have a longer commute, plus a bus ride, in getting to work. ¬†We had to find a new church and have become more involved that we planned to (but this is how it always goes…). ¬†We had to come to terms with the fact that it’s pretty hard to go out to eat once a week when you can’t just walk to Joanie’s for happy hour after work. ¬†And we live on a gravel road now. ¬†Oh, and it’s a lot colder in Iowa – nice in the summer, crazy in the winter.

Brooke and I celebrated our 5 year anniversary in 2010. ¬†In many ways, we interact just like we did back when we were first married, if not as we did before. ¬†Of course, the obvious big change in that area is the fact that we added a new member to the family, Meg, who was with us (outside of her mother, at least…) for nearly 10 months in 2010. ¬†It’s been a wild ride learning to be a parent (still learning…), but we’re both getting better at it and slowly figuring out how to handle the problems that go with it.

So, when I say that 2010 was a “seminal year,” it’s because of all these things. ¬†Lots of big change that will influence the course of our collective life that we’ll be able to look back on with fondness in a few short years.

What’s in store for 2011, you ask? ¬†Who knows. ¬†Seems hard to top the year that was 2010 when you look at that list. ¬†I’d be just fine scaling the big things down for a bit so we can coast and enjoy the changes we just went through for a bit longer. ¬†I don’t really see much coming over the horizon except for settling down a bit further, and that’s just fine with me. ¬†A few things off the top of my head would be that I’ll find out if my grant gets funded, which will determine how long we’re staying in Iowa; we’ll try a family vacation with a 1+ year old; Brooke will almost triple the size of her garden and get some chickens; and I will brew close to 60 gallons of beer.

Sounds like a good start. ¬†ūüôā


A few years back, I was at home for Christmas break and had a gathering, of sorts, with some folks from High School to attend. ¬†We happened to have family friends staying with us, who had two young children. ¬†One of those kids, apparently, had some kind of sickness, ’cause that very night, I came down with one of the worst viral infections in recent memory…and it only lasted a few hours, enough time for me to miss the party. ¬†Figures.

Since then, I’ve been particularly wary of babies and the diseases they carry. ¬†Sure, babies are cute, but they’re breeding grounds for a variety of viral and bacterial infections, especially when they go to day care and are exposed to a wealth of things that the other kids are exposed to. ¬†The immune systems of babies are heavily taxed during the first few months to years, as they are being exposed to all kinds of things that they’ve never seen before, let alone the fact that their immune systems aren’t even fully operational yet. ¬†My sister had quite a few ear infections during this period, largely because she was teething and her body simply couldn’t handle all the stress (and Meg has no teeth yet…). ¬†So yeah, it seems like whatever you get from them hasn’t been knocked down in the least, so you end up getting something even worse than you would have had you contracted it from someone older. ¬†(I have no scientific basis for this assertion…just observation…)

I typically refer to these as “Demon Baby Diseases.” ¬†Not necessarily because they come from “Demon Babies,” but because they’re so bad, they surely must be borne of some evil not known of this Earth. ¬†They’re bad. ¬†Truly bad.

In general, my immune system is pretty spectacular and I don’t tend to get sick. ¬†Sure, I’ll get a cold once a year and usually have a non-productive cough for a few weeks in the dead of winter, but aside from that, I don’t get viral or bacterial infections. ¬†I’ve always found this somewhat remarkable, and it probably has something to do with genetics, as to my knowledge, my Dad doesn’t really come down with much of anything, either. ¬†Brooke, on the other hand, is a bit more likely to come down with things. ¬†Granted, I usually work in somewhat sterile environments, so we’re all pretty attuned to the idea of keeping things clean. ¬†Brooke, however, deals with many other individuals in different environments, so she’s hit from all sides with a variety of different things.

So why do I write this now? ¬†Well, we had a nice weekend up here in Iowa sans Meg, as we shipped her off to hang out with Brooke’s parents for the weekend. ¬†By all accounts, the weekend went well: Brooke and I went out to dinner Friday night and went to a winery on Saturday, and Mark and Diana very much enjoyed having their grandbaby with them, and Meg was good the whole time. ¬†But when we got home Sunday, Meg wasn’t feeling well. ¬†She felt warm when we picked her up in Hannibal, but she slept most of the way back home. ¬†She was acting mostly fine, but still felt warm right before bedtime. ¬†But bedtime didn’t go so well. ¬†Really, it didn’t “go” at all. ¬†Brooke and I probably got 4 hours of sleep that night, as we traded off with a crying baby, which is, thankfully, not something we typically have to do.

Long story short, Brooke was home with her Monday and Meg didn’t get much better. ¬†We traded off every two hours over Monday night, and I took off work Tuesday and took her in to the doctor, as her fever hadn’t subsided. ¬†Turned out it was strep. ¬†Eeeeeesh.

The doc got her on amoxicillin and, shockingly, by Tuesday night, Meg was already feeling better. ¬†She wasn’t 100% or anything, but she was able to sleep (which, for a kid that had only slept a few hours over a period of 2 days, was much needed…you know…’cause they’re supposed to sleep something like 14 hours a day or something…). ¬†I stayed home with her again yesterday and she was acting like her normal self, although she was a bit “clingier” than usual. ¬†Last night, again, she slept relatively well.

So I’m back at work and Meg’s going to daycare again today. ¬†Generally, things are back to normal…but now Brooke thinks she may be coming down with something. ¬†Probably not strep, but still something. ¬†And, most likely, a direct result of a near complete lack of sleep over those few days. ¬†Thankfully, so far, I’m unaffected, but I’m ever vigilant. ¬†Always watching for the next Demon Baby Disease.

How We Wash Our Diapers

I think that just about everyone who uses cloth diapers has their own “secret” to clean, fresh diapers, but since we know a few new parents who are getting ready to delve into the world of cloth diapering, I thought I’d share my washing routine in case it might help!

We keep our dirty diapers in a plain trash can with a lid that came from Target for under $10, so everything wet or soiled, including flannel wipes and, when I was still breastfeeding, flannel nursing pads, goes in there. When Meg was only eating breastmilk, the poopy diapers also went in as is. Now that she’s eating solids and the poop wouldn’t break down in the washer, we just dump what can be dumped into the toilet and throw those diapers into an ice cream bucket that’s on the stairs to the basement where the washer and dryer are so we can grab them on the way down with the rest of the diapers.

Generally, we wash diapers and covers every 2-3 days during the evening after Meg is in bed. Our normal routine is that I “Prewash” everything on cold first, then soak everything in warm water with a couple of coffee scoops of baking soda. I used to take out the covers and soak just the diapers in hot water, but decided that was using too much energy for not a lot of difference in cleanliness, so recently switched to a warm water soak. I let the diapers soak for about an hour, then wash on warm with an extra rinse cycle. I just use Tide Free and Clear detergent and a couple of capfuls of vinegar in the fabric softener dispenser of the washer. I’m usually not a name brand snob at all, but since we have well water, I think the Tide really does do a much better job than other brands of baby-friendly detergent, although when Aldi has their brand of dye and perfume free detergent, I use that, but they only have it every once in awhile. By this point in the routine, I go to bed and Andy handles pulling out the diaper covers to air dry and putting the diapers in the dryer on the highest heat setting. By the time we get up in the morning, the diapers in the dryer are finished and the covers are dry enough to either put away or pack in Meg’s day care bag.

We do have a couple of all-in-one diapers that Andy just puts in the dryer and they seem to still be holding up ok, but I’m not sure how they would continue to wash if we only dried them in the dryer and only used those?

I’ve bleached all of our white prefolds maybe twice in the last 7 months, but hung prefolds and handmade fitteds outside on a really sunny day to be sun bleached every once in awhile. I had plans to hang everything out on the clothesline for as long as possible, and while I did hang out clothes all summer, the diapers didn’t make it out that often, especially since I started working, just because the dryer is so much faster and can be done overnight. As always, feel free to ask either of us any questions about cloth diapering, because we think we’re pretty good at it and it’s working out so well for us, we think anyone can handle it!

New Developments

In recent weeks, Meg has gotten quite a bit better about sitting up. ¬†This, I’m told, is typical of most babies in their 6th month of life, so I guess it shouldn’t be all that surprising. ¬†The crazy thing is just how quickly she seems to be developing! ¬†Within the past few weeks, she has started getting much more “tactile” in her interactions. ¬†She still doesn’t quite understand that her hands are, necessarily, “controllable” by her brain, but she has realized she has them and that she can pick things up with them.

"What can I do with this?"

The most interesting part to me, however, is how she has started to grab my face and grab Edie. ¬†She takes such an interest in touching my face, almost as if she didn’t quite realize that I was alive, or that I was “real,” for the past few months. ¬†As if she now has a different sense of me, or of people in general. ¬†Maybe as if she treated all the people around her much like people on a TV screen: they’re there, but they aren’t really “there,” if that makes any sense.

Meg has always paid close attention to Edie, watching her walk through the house and so on, but now she can actually reach out and touch her. ¬†Thankfully, Edie is just fine with this. ¬†Meg reaches out and will hold onto Edie’s skin (more than the hair). ¬†Meg just stares at Edie, possibly wondering if she’ll move or run off.

"I'm very proud of all my toys!"

Regardless, it’s been fun over the past few weeks watching her. ¬†It’s just cool to watch someone learn things for the first time, things that we adults tend to take for granted. ¬†Not even relatively simple things like “walking” or “sitting,” but just the realization that people exist and that you can actually interact with them, rather than watch them.